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Civil Plaintiff

$2 Million Settlement Reached in Death of Officer’s Girlfriend Who Died by Suicide Using His Unsecured Gun

A $2 million settlement with Ventnor City and Police Lt. Francisco O’Neill has been reached in the lawsuit brought by the family of O’Neill’s former girlfriend, the late Kelly Ann McDowell, who died in 2017 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound using O’Neill’s loaded service weapon. His gun was left unsecured on the floor of their unlocked walk-in bedroom closet in the house they shared with their combined five young children. The settlement followed a precedent-setting Superior Court of New Jersey ruling in the case that then Sgt. O’Neill (his promotion followed the incident) could be held financially responsible for failing to properly secure his gun, even when “off-duty”. The plaintiffs, Ms. McDowell’s parents, administrators of her estate, and her eldest of three children, were represented in the litigation by, respectively, The D’Amato Law Firm, and Barry, Corrado & Grassi, PC.

Kevin and Carol McDowell, Ms. McDowell’s parents, said following the settlement, “We feel daily the pain of Kelly’s loss, as do her three children, and the pain is even more searing knowing her death was absolutely preventable. Kelly Ann , who was a remarkable working single parent, would be alive today if police rules about gun safety and storage had only been followed. We hope, in the aftermath of this settlement, and the court ruling, other innocent lives can be saved through stricter compliance by law enforcement – individuals and departments – regarding gun-safety, including when officers are off-duty.”

The family alleged in its lawsuit (SCNJ/No. ATL-L-000793-18) that O’Neill violated mandatory departmental firearms storage procedures, and was negligent by failing to keep his .45 caliber Glock service pistol secured either with a trigger-lock device, gun safe, or other safeguards. Prior to the settlement, the trial court determined O’Neill’s failure to exercise due care was so blatant it found him negligent as a matter of law.

Read the source article at EIN Presswire

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